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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality
sity verifying that the teacher candidate has met the state’s course requirements for either elementary or secondary teachers, the candidate is granted an initial teacher credential. Idaho’s policy for granting initial teacher certification does not require candidates to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, or abilities to teach through any formal testing program (Educational Testing Service or National Evaluation Systems). However, because the state has spent a large amount of money in recent years equipping all schools with modern technology to advance student learning, the state, in 1999, instituted a requirement that initial teachers demonstrate computer competency. Teacher candidates can demonstrate computer competency through a passing score on the Idaho Technology Competency Examination, the Idaho Technology Portfolio Assessment, or the Idaho Performance Assessment.
Idaho Teacher Preparation Programs
In Idaho there are six higher-education institutions with state-approved teacher education programs (five of which are also NCATE accredited). The state grants liberty to the higher-education institution in structuring its teacher education program as long as the course requirements are fulfilled. For this reason the teacher education programs at the higher-education institutions in the state are not uniform in either their entry requirements or program design. Several of the teacher programs in the state are highlighted below.
Teacher Education at Boise State University
At Boise State, students apply for admittance into the teacher education program during their sophomore year. Entry into the teacher education program is based on several criteria, including a student’s professional documentation, academic standards, and professional standards. The first criterion—professional documentation—substantiates the student’s ability and desire to work with children. Students are asked to provide written evidence of prior work with children or young people in a formal setting, to write an essay describing the significance of the experience as it relates to the student’s professional goals, and to provide letters of recommendation from professionals familiar with the student’s work with children.
To fulfill the second criterion—academic standards—students are required to have a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.5. Students are also required to have at least a C on each teacher education prerequisite class. Students applying for entry into the elementary education program are required to complete classes in English composition, math, and science as well as seven teacher education classes. They are also required to earn a set passing score on the math (175) and writing (172) portions of Praxis I. Students interested in becoming secondary education teachers have less specific course requirements for entry